Battarbee. K. and Koskinen, I. (2005). Co-experience: user experience as interaction

The authors see the implicit individualistic bias as a major problem in the user experience literature. They refer to the mostly missing social quality of experience with the term “co-experience”, and propose an interactionist perspective for studying co-experience.

The authors classify current approaches to user experience as

1. The measuring approach is used in development and testing and tries to measure experiences through emotional reactions, such as facial expressions or galvanic skin response

2.    The empathic approach claims that the kinds of experiences that products elicit should be connected to the needs, dreams and motivations of individuals, which requires an empathic understanding of the user’s desired experiences. This is achieved with methods that combine visual and textual data, such as self-documentation.

3.    The pragmatist approach sees experiences as momentary constructions that grow from the interaction between people and their environment and fluctuates between the states of cognition, subconsciousness and storytelling.

The authors find the pragmatic approach broadest of the three in its scope, but still lacking the social context. They elaborate the pragmatist perspective with what they call co-experience.

Experiences migrate from the centre of attention to the periphery or into stories and acts of personalization and back again in three general ways:

1.    Lifting up experiences – people evaluate something that happens in the stream of their everyday life as meaningful and lift it by describing it to someone else

2.    Reciprocating experiences – people respond to someone else’s stories of their experiences by telling about their own, similar experiences and thus show that the experience is meaningful for them

3.    Rejecting and ignoring experiences – something important for one person may be too familiar, uninteresting or even offensive for others and therefore rejected or ignored

The main message of this paper is that existing approaches to understanding user experience neglect the kinds of experiences that are created together with others and thus the concept co-experience is needed.

The authors define user experience as something that people create, elaborate and evaluate together with others; with products being involved as the subject, object or means of these interactions.

Battarbee. K. and Koskinen, I.  (2005). Co-experience: user experience as interaction. CoDesign, vol 1(1), 5-18.